5 Questions To Ask Before Baptizing A Child
I don’t know of a more exciting or scary question than, “Mom, Dad, I want to get baptized!” Initially, we are all excited. Our child has become (or may soon be) our brother in Christ! Praise God for what he has done!
But then the doubts rumble in like a summer thunderstorm. Are we sure junior is saved? Maybe he’s confused. Maybe, he’s trying to impress us? Maybe, he thinks the water has magical powers. We don’t want to discourage him, but at the same time we don’t want to give him false hope, ruining him forever. What do we do?
Well first and foremost, we pray for wisdom and discernment. Second, we seek wise counsel. Take time to talk with your pastor or with an elder in your church. And third, we evaluate our kids’ heart against the scriptures. I have found the following five questions to be very helpful for evaluating a kid’s interest in Baptism.
Does my kid understand the gospel?
The first test for any profession of faith is knowledge (Romans 10:14). If our kid doesn’t know the gospel, (God rules, we sinned, Jesus Saves, and we respond) he is not saved. Our son may have zeal, enthusiasm, and a genuine interest in Jesus. But, he does not have salvation. Excitement alone does not save.
And while we shouldn’t expect a kid to be able to discuss the fines points of Supralapsarianism, we must expect them to know the gospel prior to Baptism. Just saying a prayer and walking an aisle no more makes a kid a Christian than singing “Yellow Submarine” makes you or me a member of the Beatles. There is no salvation apart from knowledge.
Does she claim Jesus as her savior?
Kids who are truly saved will claim to be following Jesus. They will say things like, “Jesus is my savior; He saved me, I asked him to come into my heart; and I want to be like Jesus.” A kid who loves Jesus will identify with Him before Baptism.
Has his life changed?
This is the big one. We read in 2 Corinthians 5 that people become new creations at conversion. Kids are no different. The same Holy Spirit who redeems adults redeems kids. Once saved, our angry kids will become loving. Liars will become truthful. Bad students will begin paying attention in class. In short, our sons and daughters will begin acting like Jesus. True faith always produces good works.
But if your kid still hates his sister, he is not a Christian. Understanding and verbal confessions do not equal salvation. In James 2:19, we read that even the demons know about God. True faith is always involves action.
How do you know if your kid has changed? Dr. Stuart Scott has used the analogy of a film strip. If most of the strip is filled with good frames, we know a kid has changed (even if a frame here or there is damaged). But if the majority of the film strip is frayed and marred, we know our kid’s heart is unredeemed. We must elevate the fruit of our kid’s life before baptism.
Does she get baptism?
Kids want to get baptized for a whole host of reasons. They want to be like their friends. They think baptism saves. Or quite simply, they like the attention. Before we encourage a kid to jump into the pool, we need to make sure they understand the purpose of Baptism. Namely, Baptism is a symbol by which Christians proclaim that God has saved us from our sins through His death on the cross (Colossians 2:12-13, Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21). If kids understand baptism, they are almost ready! If our kid doesn’t get baptism, we probably need to swing back up to question one.
Is he excited about baptism?
Kids who get saved will be excited about what God has done! They will want to get baptized like the Ethiopian eunuch and the Phillipian jailer (Acts 8:36-38; 16:32-33). No believing child or person has to be dragged into the baptism pool. Sure some kids may be scared of standing in front of people. And, we should encourage them. But if our kid truly loves Jesus, he will always want to get baptized regardless of his fears. True believers are excited about their savior and want to follow him!
If a kid knows the gospel, claims Jesus, has good works, gets baptism, and wants to get baptized, I think we should encourage her towards Baptism. But If our kid lacks knowledge, works, or enthusiasm, we keep teaching her the gospel, waiting for God to work.
I hope these 5 questions have proved helpful for you! When do you think a child is ready for baptism?